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Review: Let’s talk about sexagenarians as Book Club comes to Diss

PUBLISHED: 09:18 03 December 2018

Candice Bergen as Sharon, Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda as Vivian in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue Gordon

Candice Bergen as Sharon, Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda as Vivian in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue Gordon

Archant

Writer-director Bill Holderman’s frothy romantic comedy stars Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen as life-long friends, who have forgotten what it means to grow old disgracefully.

Diane Keaton as Diane, Candice Bergen as Sharon, Jane Fonda as Vivian and Mary Steenburgen as Carol in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue GordonDiane Keaton as Diane, Candice Bergen as Sharon, Jane Fonda as Vivian and Mary Steenburgen as Carol in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue Gordon

Book Club (15)

***

This movie gives as pure, and as honest, an expression of the human condition as any work of art could offer: fundamentally ghastly but made tolerable, even pleasurable, by good company and the odd drink.

Book Club is about old people rediscovering sex. Four lifelong friends go into a collective tizzy when one of then selects Fifty Shades of Grey as the next month’s read.

Diane Keaton as Diane and Andy Garcia as Mitchell in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue GordonDiane Keaton as Diane and Andy Garcia as Mitchell in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue Gordon

If nothing else, Book Club is notable for doing a much more convincing job of explaining why that book became such a phenomenon than the film made of it.

Diane Keaton has voiceover duties and first place in the credits but Jane Fonda is clearly the leader of the gang, on and off screen.

In the 1970s, 9 To 5 set a template for this kind of female group comedies. Her character is the one who introduces the book to the group, and her character is the only one that at the start is still sexually active.

The spiky orange hair makes her look like Sharon Osborne, but a Sharon Osborne that wouldn’t touch Ozzy with a 10-foot mic stand.

Mary Steenburgen as Carol and Craig T. Nelson as Bruce in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue GordonMary Steenburgen as Carol and Craig T. Nelson as Bruce in Book Club. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue Gordon

Fonda is nearing her ninth decade and though the version we see on screen here is probably no more the reality of 80-year-old Fonda than Thanos is of the real Josh Brolin, it can’t all be plastic and flattering camera angles that are allowing her to pass for mid-sixties.

The eBay prices for her old workout tapes should skyrocket after this.

The film’s contention is that sex drive is the first thing that goes after retirement; its hope is that really it is the sense of humour because the one-liners and comic situations are all fairly basic and improbable.

But there is something infectiously good-natured about a film where everybody seems to be drinking bucket sized glasses of white wine all the time.

The cast is all people you don’t get to see out and about enough these days. Richard Dreyfuss turns up as one of Candice Bergen’s computer date matches and there’s a shot of him emerging red-faced and flustered from a session on the back seat of her car that is funnier than it has any right to be and almost touching.

* Book Club screens at Diss Corn Hall on December 5, 10.30am and 7.30pm, 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk

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